LONDON: Liverpool put their European woes behind them in the best possible way with a 2-0 win away to city rivals Everton in the Premier League on Sunday. Earlier, Birmingham City beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0.
Liverpool, whose hopes of reaching the knockout phase of the Champions League disappeared in midweek, took a fortunate early lead when Javier Mascherano’s speculative shot was deflected past Tim Howard by Everton defender Joseph Yobo.
Everton had two goals ruled out for offside and were then denied by a great double-save by Pepe Reina before Dirk Kuyt finished it 10 minutes from time, seizing on Howard’s parry of an Alberto Riera shot after another Yobo blunder.
The win takes Liverpool to fifth place on 23 points and leaves Everton two places above the relegation zone after a dire run.
Lee Bowyer scored in the third minute to give Birmingham a 1-0 victory over Midlands rival Wolverhampton. The focus was on the title race in the late match, with leader Chelsea travelling across London to third-place Arsenal.
Dawson bails out Tottenham
Meanwhile on Saturday, Michael Dawson smashed in a superb equaliser as Tottenham came from behind to draw 1-1 with Aston Villa and retain its place in the Premier League’s top four.
Harry Redknapp chose Dawson as his stand-in captain for the day and his on-the-field leader rewarded him with a captain’s contribution as Spurs maintained its three-point advantage over Martin O’Neill’s side in the race for a top-four finish.
Dawson’s 77th minute strike was no more than Spurs deserved after dominating for long periods and it came just minutes after Jermain Defoe had a goal ruled out for a Thierry Henry-style handball.
Referee Phil Dowd spotted the England striker controlling a deflection of Steve Sidwell with his hand before prodding the ball into the net after Tom Huddlestone’s earlier shot had been saved by Brad Friedel. But Villa could not hang on to the 9th minute lead given it by Gabriel Agbonlahor’s eighth goal of the season.
O’Neill spent much of the build up desperately trying to play down the significance of the head-on clash between the two top four. He even suggested Spurs is favourite ahead of Villa to break the ‘Big Four’ monopoly this season and that his side has some way to go to catch it and on this evidence he is right.
Both clubs look set for a titanic struggle for the remainder of the season with a host of England internationals desperate to make a point to Fabio Capello before his final squad selection for the World Cup in South Africa.
The results: Everton 0 lost to Liverpool 2 (Yobo 12-o.g, Kuyt 80), Wolverhampton 0 lost to Birmingham 1 (Bowyer 2).
On Saturday: Aston Villa 1 (Agbonlahor 10) drew with Tottenham 1 (Dawson 77); Blackburn Rovers 0 drew with Stoke City 0; Fulham 1 (Damien Duff 75) drew with Bolton Wanderers 1 (Ivan Klasnic 35); Manchester City 1 (Shaun Wright-Phillips 45+1) drew with Hull City 1 (Jimmy Bullard 82pen): Portsmouth 1 (Kevin Boateng 32pen) lost to Manchester United 4 (Wayne Rooney 25pen, 48, 54pen, Ryan Giggs 87); West Ham United 5 (Jack Collison 18, Junior Stanislas 34, Carlton Cole 43pen, Guillermo Franco 51, Luis Jimenez 64pen) bt Burnley 3 (Steven Fletcher 68, 74, Chris Eagles 90+5); Wigan Athletic 1 (Hugo Rodallega 76) bt Sunderland 0.